Harris v. LADA (Death Penalty Costs)
The office of Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has failed to disclose public documents on the costs of prosecuting capital cases, according to a lawsuit filed today by The American Civil Liberties Union Foundations of California (ACLU Foundations of California) on behalf of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice (CHHIRJ) at Harvard Law School. The lawsuit is for public records on expenses related to homicide cases, and discretionary spending generally, by the D.A. of California's most populous – and murderous – county.
According to FBI statistics, there were about seven hundred murders and non-negligent homicides in Los Angeles County in 2009, accounting for approximately 35% of the homicides in California and nearly 5% of the homicides in the entire United States. The Los Angeles County D.A.'s office (LADA) handles the vast majority of prosecutions arising out of murders in Los Angeles County. But in response to a broad request for records showing how much the office spent on these cases, the D.A.'s office claimed that it had no such records.
After the ACLU Foundations of California filed suit, the LADA provided over 200 pages of responsive records.